8x10 Enlarger Building Question

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Heya, folks -

I'm in the process of butchering an ugly old 8x10 camera to make an enlarger. Unfortunately, the camera doesn't have a focusing track w/gears (really just a front & rear standard). Any thoughts on where I might find such an item, or thoughts on alternative designs?



-- John Burke (klyss@yahoo.com), May 30, 2002


There is actually a company called Boston Gear where many camera manufactures purchase their gear tracks and gears. I am sure they would have something for your enlarger project.

-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), May 30, 2002.

John, THe Noba cameras, which were once quite popular as a studio camera, used a belt and pulleys for focusing. Worked quite well, and was very fast. Are you building a verticle or horizontal enlarger? The belt drive would probably work better in the horizontal configuration. Good luck with the project.


-- Doug Paramore (Dougmary@alaweb.com), May 30, 2002.

This may be off-topic, but may be something to think about.

My 8x10 enlarger is a Screen 18x22 vertical process (stat) camera that I was GIVEN by a local newspaper just to get it out of their way.

It's really like an upside-down enlarger with florescent (diffusion) light source on bottom, hinged plate glass holder for negative, two lenses allowing 25-400% repro options, flip-over groundglass on one side and vacuum easel on other side for focusing and placement of enlarging paper. And built in timer, on board reflection and transmission densitometer. Also, for contact printing, it had a "bump" light situated directly over where the litho film would've been on the vacuum easel to "flash" the paper for contrast control. I now use that as my 8x10 contact printer, having replaced the original 15 watt bulb with a 100-watter. It, too, is hooked into the camera's digital timing system.

This entire unit (less the halogen light for copy work which I removed) is no larger than a washing machine and fits neatly into one corner of my darkroom. The only downside is that the maximum print size on the vacuum easel is 18x22 inches, which means my practical limit for prints is 16x20.

Anyway, you might check around local print shops or newspapers to see if they've got one of these units collecting dust. Since I've had mine, two friends of mine have gotten similar stat cameras, one for a couple hundred dollars and the other for free.

Hope this helps.

-- David Haynes (studioblsp@mindspring.com), May 30, 2002.

Go to www.smallparts.com. Click on the "Catalog" link, and look under R for rack and P for pinion. These guys carry vast amounts of grownup tinker toys. You'll find yourself inventing projects just so you can use some of the stuff you find there.

-- Kevin Bourque (skygzr@aol.com), May 30, 2002.

Great idea. Thanks, Kevin and Kevin, for the leads. I knew there had to somewhere we could buy tracks/rails. THANKS

-- David Stein (DFStein@aol.com), May 30, 2002.


I appreciate the help -- and my wife appreciates my not trying to convince her that a $4k 8x10 enlarger is what we really need for father's day!


-- John Burke (klyss@yahoo.com), May 30, 2002.

I went with the Stat camera idea. You can pick them up on on ebay for $50 and up. I purchared a Walsburg with 3 lens and a 32x40 vacuum plate for $200 last year. The origional owner had lost his lease after 20 years and had 3 days left to remove from the building when I showed up. Only problem is it weighs about 1000 pounds and needs about a 24' long room to fit in. Anyone have a guess what a 12'x 32"x45" bellows might be worth?

-- Beau Schwarz (ejschwarzjr@hotmail.com), May 30, 2002.

John, I canibalized an old Polaroid MP-4 camera head for the bellows and focusing rack. The head is designed for 4x5 but it could easily be restricted to just the range you need to focus and still cover the 8x10 image. There are some variants of the MP-4 that accomodate 8x10 film. I got mine on Ebay for about $30. It was in pretty ratty shape but it did the job.

-- Andy Eads (aceads@3-cities.com), May 31, 2002.

For you guys using the stat camera for an enlarger - what are you using for a light source when you make prints??

-- bill youmans (bill@greatgrips.com), May 31, 2002.


The smaller vertical cameras use a flourescent bulb light box for transmission reproductions. Larger verticals and most horizontal cameras have a transluscent copyboard and the lamps pivot around the copyboard to backlight it. I would convert one of these to a cold light of some sort. The original lamps are HOT!

I talked with a graphic arts printing supply rep. about 15 years ago and he said that when they got a repro camera turned into them in trade, they just cut them up for scrap metal since digital reproduction was replacing them and they couldn't resell them.

Repair parts are to the point of having to be custom made. Fortunately, most of them are built like tanks.

-- Hal (hal__hardy@juno.com), June 02, 2002.

Hal - The reason I asked about light sources is that I've got one of those stat cameras (Agfa - weighs a TON but razor sharp optics) and I've struggled to adapt a light source that was uniform across my neg. The little light box at the base wasn't even enough to allow decent prints, and I haven't figured out a solution for lighting the neg from the glass above without melting it. I've avoided buying a cold light source as I'm trying to build this myself and save some money. When will I learn that I'm chosen the wrong art form to save money with!

-- bill youmans (bill@greatgrips.com), June 03, 2002.


A multi bulb (tungsten) light box could be mounted above the neg stage with a remotely mounted (to eliminate vibration) exhaust fan to provide cooling. Light trap vents would introduce cool air from below the bulbs. Basically, it's the same light source as is used on a high dollar contact frame. You could even use switches to control individual bulbs.

-- Hal (hal__hardy@juno.com), June 04, 2002.

Or you could look around surplus lots--state or county--for a larger stat camera to canabilize an illuminated stage off. We surplused a $15k Glunz & Jensen vertical stat camera a few years back. It had about a 3 foot wide illuminated copy stage on it ( very even--fluorescent), along with the quartz-halogen lamps. It was a pretty big monster that ran off 220. We had to move it around with a forklift...had great lenses though...3 Schneider G-Clarons, even had an online trans/reflection densitometer. I saw a repromaster headed for the surplus lot just last month, from another lab nearby...so if there's a gov't surplus lot near you, might want to check it out...another option for a lightsource though, would be to rig up some studio strobes in a lightproof box...maybe with some opal glass to diffuse them. oh yeah, about the MP4..we use one of those too...Polaroid used to offer an 8x10 conversion kit to turn it into an enlarger, you can probably still find one...MP3's and 4's can be found at surplus lots ....

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), June 04, 2002.

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